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CyberAlert -- 04/09/2002 -- Israel Creating More Bombers

Israel Creating More Bombers; Israel Treated as Suspect; Gumbel's Last Shots; Lamb's Lament; Banfield's About Face on Osama Interview

1) Dean Reynolds acknowledged on Monday's World News Tonight that since Israel sent its military into the West Bank "attacks on Israeli civilians have all but ended." But in the very next story, Gillian Findlay decided that how Israel is abusing Palestinian means that it is creating "many more" suicide bombers.

2) The Weekly Standard's parody of a memo to reporters: "The U.S. action in Afghanistan was an effort to root out a terror organization, which had sponsored suicide attacks on a democratic nation. The Israeli invasion of the West Bank is part of a tragic cycle of violence. The correct emotion in this case is that all violence is bad, whether committed by terrorists or against them." Real-life examples from the New York Times and NBC News.

3)Our friends the Saudis? On Monday's CBS Evening News Dan Rather highlighted how a poll of Saudi citizens determined that 60 percent "hate" the United States.

4) Bryant Gumbel on Monday's Early Show: "This administration's foreign policy in regards to the Mid-East has been called everything from 'amateurish and inept' to 'inconsistent and superficial.'"

5) Brian Lamb asserted that "the media has only itself to blame for this stupid conversation about bias" since journalists claim to be "fair and balanced" when "they're not."

6) On one night MSNBC's Ashleigh Banfield scolded an Arab reporter who told her he'd interview Osama bin Laden: "You would not see this as a platform for a maniac?" But the next night, Banfield proclaimed: "Personally, absolutely I would like to interview Osama bin Laden," since "I'd be fascinated by anything Osama bin Laden would have to say."

7) Tonight on Comedy Central's Daily Show: CNN's Judy Woodruff. On CBS's Late Show: Attorney General John Ashcroft.

8) As read by members of the U.S. Coast Guard, Letterman's "Top Ten Unusual Things that Happen While Guarding Coasts." Plus, come up with your own entries for the "Top Ten Reasons Bryant Gumbel is Leaving The Early Show."


>>> Photos now online of the MRC's "Dishonor Awards: Roasting the Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporters of 2001." MRC Marketing Director Bonnie Langborgh has posted a couple of dozen photos of the event held on January 17 at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC. To see pictures of all the participants as well as of many of the prominent attendees, go to: http://www.mrc.org/news/nq/dishonor2002/dishonorphotos1.html <<<

1

Concluding a World News Tonight story on Monday night, Dean Reynolds acknowledged that since Israel sent its military into the West Bank "attacks on Israeli civilians have all but ended." But concluding the very next story, Gillian Findlay decided that how Israel is abusing Palestinian means that it is creating "many more" suicide bombers.

From Jerusalem, after scenes of buildings and homes destroyed or damaged by Israeli troops, Reynolds concluded: "Now those scenes may not help Israel's image abroad, but the fact is that most people really don't care about that here. What they do care about is the fact that since this operation started attacks on Israeli civilians have all but ended."

So maybe Israel is effectively rooting out terrorists.

The very next story cued up by anchor Peter Jennings focused on how Israeli troops were supposedly abusing Palestinians by preventing medical teams from getting through and by beating up Palestinian men, a theme also stressed on the CBS Evening News by David Hawkins.

ABC reporter Gillian Findlay featured audio of Dr. Ali Jarbawi from Jenin. He charged: "It's almost genocide, it's extremely sad and extremely frustrating for someone to witness all that's happening without any intervention from the outside world."
Findlay picked up: "Today we found dozens of men from the camp who had been questioned and photographed by the Israelis and then released. They told us they had been blindfolded, handcuffed, some severely beaten. Two years ago, Fario Zen [phonetic spelling] went to an American summer camp designed to foster peace with Israelis. Now he's talking about becoming suicide bomber."
Zen: "I have just one thing. I have my body. I'm going to bomb with my body."
Findlay concluded: "After this week, there may be many more like him."

2

The back page "Parody" in the April 15 Weekly Standard pretty insightfully captures, with a bit of humor, how the media treat Palestinian terrorists differently than the terrorists and their protectors who attacked the U.S.

The parody came in the form of a mock memo. An excerpt:

To: All Western Correspondents
From: Your Editors
Re: Welcome to Ramallah!

We are so glad you are covering the Israeli invasion of the West Bank for us. Unfortunately, many of you are fresh from covering the U.S. action in Afghanistan. Some of you may be tempted to cover this event the same way you covered that one. This is incorrect. The U.S. action in Afghanistan was an effort to root out a terror organization, which had sponsored suicide attacks on a democratic nation. The Israeli invasion of the West Bank is part of a tragic cycle of violence. The correct emotion in this case is that all violence is bad, whether committed by terrorists or against them.

Thus this story should be covered differently:

1) In Afghanistan we paid enormous amounts of attention to whether or not Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar had been apprehended. You may remember that we ran charts showing the al Qaeda and Taliban leadership, noting which had been captured or killed. In the West Bank, however, we do not care if the terrorist organizers of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or Al Aksa are killed or captured. We will simply not ask that question. To do so would be to imply the Israeli actions might be justified. It is impermissible.

2) In Afghanistan we spent a lot of time detailing the technical wizardry of U.S. forces, and the bravery of American Special Forces soldiers who were involved in hand-to-hand fighting with terrorists. In the West Bank, we shall not do that. Instead we shall dwell almost exclusively on the brutality of the soldiers. In Afghanistan a Taliban soldier killed by U.S. troops was a soldier. In Palestine, a soldier killed by Israelis is a "policeman" or "nurse."...

4) In Afghanistan the members of al Qaeda were treated as moral inferiors to the American troops. In Israel, remember, all are equal. For a model of how to do this, see Joel Greenberg's story in the April 5 New York Times. "2 Girls, Divided by War, Joined in Carnage." As Israeli girl woke up and decided to go shopping. A Palestinian girl decided to commit murder. But they were both lovely bright charming girls caught in this tragedy. Both victims!

END of Excerpt

The Weekly Standard's Web site: http://www.weeklystandard.com

The above article is only available to registered subscribers to the magazine.

The April 5 New York Times story from Jerusalem by Joel Greenberg matched the premise suggested by the Weekly Standard. An excerpt:

The suicide bomber and her victim look strikingly similar.

Two high school seniors in jeans with flowing black hair, the teenage girls walked next to each other up to the entrance of a Jerusalem supermarket last Friday.

Ayat al-Akhras, 18, from the Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem, was carrying a bomb. Rachel Levy, 17, from a neighborhood nearby, was carrying her mother's shopping list for a Sabbath eve dinner.

The vastly different trajectories of their lives intersected for one deadly moment, mirroring the intimate conflict of their two peoples. At the door of the supermarket, Ms. Akhras detonated the explosives, killing Ms. Levy and a security guard, along with herself....

The twin images of the girls resonated here, piercing a public consciousness increasingly numbed by more than 18 months of grinding violence.

The daughter of a refugee family originally from the Gaza Strip, Ms. Akhras grew up in Dheisheh, a grim warren of alleys and tightly packed dwellings that house 12,000 people on the southern edge of Bethlehem....

Despite the violence and turmoil of the past 18 months, Ms. Akhras stuck to a steady routine, her relatives said. Every morning at 7 o'clock, she would leave home for the half-hour walk to school at the neighboring village of Artas. She would return home in the afternoon and devote herself to homework and housework: cooking, ironing, doing the laundry.

A top student with superior grades, she was preparing for graduation exams in a few months and planned to study journalism at a West Bank university, said her father, Muhammad Akhras, a construction foreman. "She studied all the time," said a brother, Fathi Akhras....

Ms. Levy was also preparing for graduation exams. Her specialty in school was photography, and she recently completed a final photo project whose theme was water: pictures of a waterfall, a street puddle, a pond....

END of Excerpt

For the entire article, those registered with the New York Times can go to:
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/05/international/middleeast/05GIRL.html

Another example of a leading media figure making no distinction between terrorist killers and the nation victimized fighting back: Brian Williams on Friday's Today. MRC analyst Ken Shepard caught this from Williams on the April 5 broadcast:
"As if to say 'we don't answer to the American President, it isn't over just because the U.S. says it should be,' the Israeli army keeps on rolling, keeps on flying, and keeps on killing. This is the overnight action from Hebron and Bethlehem. In one refugee camp alone there are an estimated 70 Palestinians dead..."

I don't recall Williams ever referring to how the U.S. Army in Afghanistan "keeps on rolling, keeps on flying, and keeps on killing."

3

Our friends the Saudis. Dan Rather ended Monday's CBS Evening News by highlighting how a poll of Saudi citizens determined that most "hate" the United States and cite U.S. policy toward Israel as the reason.

Rather announced from Israel: "There is a new indication of what the United States is up against in this part of the world. A poll published today finds widespread hatred of America in a country that says it is and has been a U.S. ally, Saudi Arabia. In the poll, taken by a Saudi newspaper, 60 percent of Saudis said they 'hate' America. [no: 18] You'll recall 15 of the 19 September 11th assassins were Saudi. As for why Saudis say they hate America, 75 percent in this poll cited U.S. policy in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

An April 8 AP story from Riyadh offered more details. An excerpt:

....The poll in the Al Watan daily, owned by the royal family, questioned 2,000 Saudi men and women from 15 Saudi cities a few days before Israel's incursion into the West Bank on March 29. The poll did not give a margin of error.

Responding to a question, "Do you hate the West in general?" 49 percent of Saudis said yes, 30 percent said no and 21 percent said they don't care.

Asked if they hate America specifically, 60 percent said yes, 18 percent said no and 21 said they don't care....

END of Excerpt

For the entire AP story:
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20020408/ap_wo_en_ge/saudi_us_2

The AP noted: "Opinion polls are rare in the autocratically run kingdom." Which raises the question of its accuracy, but if you believe it is reflective of Saudi views, then it just reinforces how Israel is our only real friend in the region.

4

Bryant Gumbel is squeezing in all the bias he can before he leaves CBS's Early Show, an exact departure date he has yet to announce.

Interviewing William Quandt, an NSC adviser during the Nixon and Carter presidencies, Gumbel elicited a smirk from him on Monday morning by contending:
"This administration's foreign policy in regards to the Mid-East has been called everything from 'amateurish and inept' to 'inconsistent and superficial.' Is there any reason to think that Secretary of State Powell is going to find any more success in the region than General Zinni has?"

As Fred Barnes outlined in the April 15 Weekly Standard, the Bush administration just may have a consistent strategy:
"President Bush only looks like he's operating by the seat of his pants in Middle East policy. Actually he has a three-pronged strategy. Prong one is to give the Israelis as much time as possible for their military drive to uproot the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure. Number two is to keep some distance between the United States and Israel so as not to end up tied to everything Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon does. And the third is to keep other important American interests in mind, including the desire for allies when military action is taken against Iraq, probably later this year. What happened last week, when the president called on Israel to pull back its troops and dispatched Secretary of State Colin Powell to the Middle East, was that part three, America's other interests, became more urgent than number one, giving Sharon a long leash."

5

Brian Lamb thinks that by claiming to be impartial when they are really not, reporters have no one but themselves to blame for having to answer accusations of being biased. Lamb, founder of C-SPAN, made his comments last Tuesday, April 2, during a "Great Conversations" address at the University of Minnesota.

Jim Romenesko's MediaNews (http://www.poynter.org/medianews) on Monday highlighted an April 4 St. Paul Pioneer Press story by Brian Lambert about Lamb's comments. An excerpt:

He says, "The media has only itself to blame for this stupid conversation about bias." The great mistake, he says, is professional journalists constantly advertising themselves as "fair and balanced."

"They're not," Lamb says, "and they never have been." He says he loves "nothing more than listening to Rush Limbaugh for three hours or reading (New York Times columnist) Tom Friedman" because "you know where they're coming from and where you fit in."

But, he says, "There ought to be more liberal talk on talk radio. That's the big void right now."

END of Excerpt

They've tried. Remember Mario Cuomo's show?

For the article in full:
http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/entertainment/columnists/brian_lambert/2993030.htm

6

The two sides of MSNBC's Ashleigh Banfield: A couple of weeks ago she proclaimed that she'd love to give Osama bin Laden a forum from which to pontificate. "Personally, absolutely I would like to interview Osama bin Laden," she declared on her MSNBC prime time show, since "I'd be fascinated by anything Osama bin Laden would have to say." But, it turns out, the night before she scolded an Arab journalist who told her he'd interview him: "There are millions of people in America who believe that Osama bin Laden was responsible for the deaths of 3,000 innocent people on September 11th, but you would not see this as a platform for a maniac?"

MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth caught Banfield expressing her interest in interviewing bin Laden, comments which came on the March 28 edition of her show, Region in Conflict. As reported in the April 4 CyberAlert, at the end of the show she read an e-mailed question: "If given the chance to interview Osama bin Laden, would you?" Her answer:
"Personally, absolutely I would like to interview Osama bin Laden. There's no one I would not want to interview. I always am interested in hearing points of view, conveying those points of view. I always find it sad that people think by being the messenger you're somehow branded as actually believing in the message yourself. It's not the case. I'd be fascinated by anything Osama bin Laden would have to say."

Catching up with her nightly 9pm ET program, Brad on Friday caught her interview on the March 27 show, done as she stood inside the Beirut media center for the Arab summit, with journalist Zaki Chehab of Al Hayat. After Chehab maintained he and other Arab journalists would refuse to interview Ariel Sharon because they don't want to give him a platform while innocent people are being killed by his army, this exchange occurred:

Banfield: "If you had an opportunity for an exclusive interview with Osama bin Laden, would you take that?"
Chehab: "I think I have to think about it."
Banfield: "Your initial gut reaction, though, to my question? Your initial feeling? Yes or no?"
Chehab: "I would take it."
Banfield: "You would take it?"
Chehab: "I would take it."
Banfield: "But not with Ariel Sharon."
Chehab: "Not with Ariel Sharon."
Banfield: "Doesn't that seem unbalanced?"
Chehab: "Unbalanced in which way?"
Banfield: "There are millions of people in America who believe that Osama bin Laden was responsible for the deaths of 3,000 innocent people on September 11th, but you would not see this as a platform for a maniac?"

Chehab responded with a "no," adding that CNN and ABC have both interviewed bin Laden before.

But that was before September 11th.

7

Scheduled to appear tonight, Tuesday April 9:

-- CNN's Judy Woodruff on Comedy Central's Daily Show at 11pm EDT/PDT, repeated Tuesday night/Wednesday morning 1am EDT/PDT and again at both 10am and 7pm EDT/PDT on Wednesday.

-- Attorney General John Ashcroft on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm EDT/PDT, 10:35pm CDT/MDT.

8

From the April 5 Late Show with David Letterman, as read by members of the U.S. Coast Guard, the "Top Ten Unusual Things that Happen While Guarding Coasts." The Late Show Web page: http://www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow/

10. Sometimes you catch the lighthouse keeper making shadow puppets
(Petty Officer Stormie Thompson)

9. As it turns out, salt water plus oil spill equals delicious vinaigrette
(Boatswains Mate 1st Class Tom Cooper)

8. Once in a while, during a search-and-rescue, you find a cool-looking seashell
(Seaman Sara Rosato)

7. When you're lost in the fog, friendly sea monsters help you find your way
(Chief Petty Officer Pierre Funderburk)

6. David Hasselhoff keeps showing up to see if we need a hand
(Petty Officer Tom Sperduto)

5. Kids are always crank-calling you in Morse Code
(Lieutenant Mark Bottiglieri)

4. There's nothing sweeter than stopping some snotty jerk driving his yacht drunk
(Lieutenant Chris O'Brien)

3. Once I found a piece of driftwood that sort of looked like Freddie Prinze Jr.
(Petty Officer Uzeralanai Bynum)

2. Last week I made myself new underpants out of seaweed
(Boatswains Mate 2nd Class Todd Walter)

1. Pirates!
(Chief Petty Officer Jose Miranda)

Make up your own "top ten" entries for Bryant Gumbel and you can win a Late Show T-shirt. This week's "Top Ten Contest" on the Late Show Web page: "Top Ten Reasons Bryant Gumbel is Leaving The Early Show." To submit your entries:
http://www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow/top_ten/contest/

If you come up with any good ones, pass them along to me and I'll run them along with the ones picked as winners by the Letterman staff assuming, of course, yours are not selected. Send them to: cybercomment@mrc.org

If you haven't seen ABC's The Court yet, the Supreme Court drama starring Sally Field, tonight is your last chance. ABC has already cancelled it and so the 10pm EDT/PDT, 9pm CDT/MDT Tuesday night showing of the third episode will be its last ever.

Having seen it, I'd say it's no loss. -- Brent Baker


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